Debate on the pre-paid water metering system continues to boil, as council moves in to start installing prepaid water meters to run a pilot project.
According to an advertorial that appeared in a local daily paper on 20 April, City of Harare announced that it was going ahead with the prepaid water meter project, despite massive resistance from residents’ organisations that have been running campaigns to resist the prepaid water metering system.
Council said that the prepaid water metering system is in line with modern trends in water delivery management, and outlined that it will soon try out the project in the Central Business District (CBD), Avenues area, all council-owned buildings and selected Northern suburbs.
“Prepaid smart water meters are principally a water management tool designed to enable the resident to manage their water consumption, to manage (council) internal losses, to manage the money that they (residents) spend, and to ensure that the bills they receive from council are accurate,” read the council advertorial.
The municipality went on to explain that the smart prepaid water meter system will also enable the City to manage water consumption and corresponding revenue, “It can also pinpoint where leaks could be occurring, hence help reduce non-revenue water. Estimations are that the City can reduce costs by close to 30% as a result of the reduction of non-revenue water.”
“The City can therefore better manage the available water, which could be enough for all residents. Prepaid smart water meters are a powerful water management tool that we need to pilot immediately to determine the ideal system for Harare. The pilot system is part of our enhanced stakeholder consultation,” read council’s advertorial.
On the other hand, residents’ organisations have rejected prepaid water meters saying that the meters will pave the way for the privatisation of water – a basic human right as enshrined in the country’s constitution. The residents’ organisations have also argued that prepaid water meters will exacerbate emergencies, undermine public health, violate the right to water, and make water more expensive.
The chairperson of the Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum (HAMREF) Simbarashe Moyo said that the organisation will intensify its anti-prepaid water meter campaign to drum up more support from residents. “We have done adequate consultations with the residents and policy makers, and there are clear messages coming out that the residents are against prepaid water meters. Those supporting them are only doing it for personal reasons, and are being pushed by those who stand to benefit from the tendering pro-cesses,” said Moyo.
However, in an interview with Harare News, the deputy mayor of Harare Thomas Muzuva (Ward 14), said that residents in his ward were in support of prepaid water meters and went on to allege that residents organisations were not representing residents’ true position on prepaid water meters.
“Residents in my ward are in support of prepaid water meters, and I believe the pressure groups are not giving a true reflection of the residents’ sentiments on prepaid water meters. I believe they are serving their donors’ agenda,” alleged Muzuva. “People who are against prepaid meters are the ones who are not paying their water bills right now, because for those who are paying there is no difference between paying for water consumed and water to be consumed as rates remain the same,” added Muzuva.